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Matatu men desert Umoinner

Some Umoinner sacco matatu owners have moved their vehicles to other saccos after the government suspended its licence on Friday.

They told NairobiNews it would be unwise to take their vehicles for inspection at Ruaraka Traffic Headquarters as had been ordered by the authorities.

They said they had learnt that driving licences were being retained alongside the vehicles.

“We are calling upon the government to return our driving licences and other documents,” said Charles Sila, a driver.

He said most of the the drivers whose licences were taken did not know what to do next as they could not look for work.

It also emerged that operators who failed to take their vehicles for inspection had joined other saccos operating in Umoja and neighbouring estates by repainting them with colours of their preferred saccos.

An Umoinner Sacco official, Mr Christopher Kibe, said the government was wrong in administering blanket punishment but that the sacco was working towards having all its vehicles inspected.

“The Secretary for Transport, Mr Kamau, cannot justify his actions since accidents happen everyday and everywhere although it was really sad that lives were lost,” he said.

Mr Kibe apologised for the accident that left 12 people dead and 34 others injured.

He, however, said the sacco officials and other members smelled something fishy in Mr Kamau’s decision.

“We read mischief but we believe the law will be on our side. We did not deliberately cause the accident,” he said.

Mr Okweh Achiando said the government contravened the law by issuing a blanket condemnation that had left hundreds jobless.

“That was not in order, legally and constitutionally. It is only one driver who was involved in the accident and he has since been charged in court,” said the lawyer.

He said it was a breach of the law and human rights for authorities to confiscate licences, given that the drivers were not involved in any offence.

He blamed the state for the accident since it had failed to remove illegal structures near the railway line which hindered visibility.

“The government is mistaken. I’m now penniless and I don’t know how I will feed my family.

“Almost all of us have no other training apart from what we are currently involved in at the sacco,” said Mr Obonyo Zedi Odalo.